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These pages spell out the skills and methodologies we employ to create and implement the solutions you need. These do not make us unique – all our competitors will use similar procedures and tools. However, whilst being fully certified nerds, we’re also surprisingly easy to work with – unlike many techies, we’re capable of conducting sensible conversations with those that don’t speak “geek”.

This means that we understand what you tell us, work closely with you to make it happen, and keep you informed at every stage – no unnecessary fuss, stress or expense. After all, you want us to solve your problems, not make them worse!

We work with you to identify, analyse and document project requirements.  We then carry out feasibility studies, technical assessments and prototyping to determine the best approaches for full system development.

Requirements Engineering

We identify the business, user and functional requirements when instigating, scoping and defining a new or altered system.  We utilise support tools such as DOORS and Rational Rose for capture and analysis of these requirements.

Feasibility Studies

We can undertake detailed investigation and analysis of factors influencing the project to determine if it is viable.  This includes exploring the range of options and highlighting potential issues.  By doing this, we mitigate risk before embarking on a full project.


We use prototyping to investigate different technologies and determine the best approaches to solving your problems.  Using methodologies such as Agile or Rapid Application Development, we can swiftly create a working model.  This enables us to gather user feedback for inclusion in the requirements gathering process, and allows us to test various aspects of a design or illustrate ideas and features.

Legacy System Analysis

We can examine legacy systems to determine the best approaches for:

  • Line replacement of a part of the system that uses obsolete hardware
  • Building an interface to extract data for a newly introduced system
  • Enhancing system functionality

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Whether your project is part of a larger system, or a stand-alone application, our expertise ensures your designs make the most intelligent use of current technologies and best practice, and that the finished solution achieves all your business and technical objectives.

Functional Specifications

We can interpret user requirements to produce functional specifications.  These will describe, from the user’s perspective, how the product will work.

Architecture Development

Once the functional requirements of a system have been determined, we can advise on the most appropriate system architecture eg client-server, distributed, peer-to-peer.  As systems architecture affects both the hardware and software requirements, we can examine the role of COTS components in the final solution.

System Design

We break complex systems down into sub-systems, carefully considering interactions, interfaces, and the flow-down of requirements. This phase includes the documenting of design outputs, including interface specifications for the system and any sub-systems.

Software Design

We then elaborate further on the system design, to produce detailed designs.  We choose the most appropriate tools and methodologies e.g Unified Modelling Language (UML), Yourdon, ROSE, SELECT.

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We are experts in a range of application areas, such as real-time safety related systems, legacy system upgrades and integration, modern internet based applications, test simulators and engineering support tools.  We combine the very latest thinking with a practical results driven approach to develop the systems and applications of tomorrow, whilst also extending the life of those in operation today.

Legacy Systems

Upgrading or redeveloping legacy systems, or integrating with modern systems, to take advantage of the latest technologies and techniques to improve efficiency and functionality.

Safety Systems

Working to standards such as BS EN 61508 (a general standard which is the pre-cursor for most other safety related software standards) and BS EN 50128 (a railway industry specific standard), we understand the concept of software safety.  We are also able to carry out the systematic development process, emphasizing requirements traceability, criticality analysis, and validation, that is necessary to ensure required safety levels.

Test Tools & Simulators

Development of complex systems requires the simulation of inputs to ensure that compliant inputs are handled correctly and that non-compliant inputs are trapped, logged and managed. This calls for the development of dedicated test tools and simulators that allow repeatable tests to exercise all functions of the system under test.

Engineering Support Tools

To ensure the efficient set-up and running of today’s complex systems, we provide a range of diagnostic, analysis & reporting tools.

Internet Based Systems

Utilising the latest Internet technologies, Zircon can provide Internet based systems or Internet enabled legacy systems.

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As an independent professional organisation, Zircon provides a fresh and objective perspective.  This ensures the consistency, completeness and correctness of the development process and software, as well as the supporting documentation and its verification and validation.

Quality Planning & Audits

Verification & Validation activities form a key part of the overall process of ensuring software quality.  However, by themselves they do not guarantee software quality, as additional considerations, such as planning, traceability, and configuration management, are required.

We can determine or examine your, or your contractor’s, software quality procedures, their application and their suitability for a project, to ensure that the appropriate level of quality has been determined and has been effectively applied.

Verification & Validation/Testing

We bring a fresh and objective perspective to the whole process.  We look for consistency, completeness and correctness of software and its supporting documentation at all stages of the project lifecycle.

Zircon has expertise in devising test plans and test specification documents, based on a range of test methodologies and techniques.  Testing by itself though, does not ensure software quality and Zircon can review and analyse other considerations, such as planning, traceability and configuration control systems, to ensure that delivered software meets the necessary quality considerations.

We are able to provide an independent Verification & Validation capability.  This ensures that these tasks are undertaken by a team that is separate from the core software development group, and that the process does not impact on the quality of the delivery.

Technical Reviews

We undertake code, design, specification and technology reviews to enhance our Verification & Validation services.  These reviews also determine whether the processes, specifications and technologies in question are appropriate, and meet industry best practice (including issues such as in-service maintainability and supportability of the software).

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